New York

Albert Stadler

Poindexter Gallery

Albert Stadler’s color paintings, all from this year, are sensitive, even moody. They take on the task of color—in fact, a multiplicity of color—while attempting to leave shape behind. In this way they are similar to De France’s attempt to manage hue apart from pigment, but here the optical-esthetic problem is kept under polite control, not only as far as the mechanics of the effect is concerned (the question of what new thing a piece of canvas can be made to do is impertinent here), but also in the way theory is kept in check by practice. Thus, the fact that we could even imagine Berkeley or Hume being fascinated by the combination of colors independent of graspable shape, is not permitted to detract from bald perception. In fact, it extends the pure perceptual aspect and heightens it, since the actual colors in question assume a strange spectral liberty, seeming to float free of the regulating nodes in the spectrum which makes us think of blue as being something of a different nature from green.

If these pictures seem at all weak, that is a result of just what we might expect, that they do not seem adequately structured or sufficiently composed. (Yet, on the issue of composition, how often we still look with the eyes of the Royal Academy!) But while Larry Poons, now in a similar position in some of his re- cent paintings at the Lawrence Rubin Gallery, returns to the organizing principle of the Turner vortex (leaving corners to fend for themselves), Stadler relaxes into a more modern cosmology where galaxies float where they will in a boundless, but finite, manifold. The price of this is that the paintings may not seem to be quite at rest, and sometimes seem like stills from Thomas Wilfred’s Lumia Suite, with the same disconcerting feeling you have there (Museum of Modern Art) that if you wait a little longer the thing will get firmer and better. Of course, it can’t here, but in compensation we do have a trustworthy planarity. Or do we? Is it a glimpse into the siderial expanse?

In this ambivalence (not ambiguity; both aspects are vivid and certain) between plane and immeasurable space, Stadler may recall or allude to Louis. And while I have not seen it remarked anywhere, the “Veils” of Morris Louis may, in their collective title, refer not only to their appearance but also to a concept of Schopenhauer’s which was taken up by American artists around the turn of the century (it appears many times in John La Farge’s Considerations on Painting: the “veil of Maya,” which separates the self from the selves of others). Stadler’s works, by their willingly shared subjectivity, seem Louisian in this way too.

Joseph Masheck